There was historic flooding in Ellicott City, Maryland -- for the second time in two years. This incident would normally have been merely a blip on the whole Terrible Climate Change radar. This time, though, it is a small, yet devastating tragedy.
The one missing man is the best friend of one of my Facebook ladies. Hope fades, as he has been missing for twenty-four hours, and was last seen being swept away by the floodwaters.
Gone. Her Best Friend.
The kind of friend who, despite living several states away from her, still texted and/or spoke to her every day. The kind whom she leaned upon when life was hard, who provided support and encouragement and humor in her daily existence. The kind who is warm-hearted and generous of self. The kind who will leave a gaping hole in the community in which he lived, and an un-mend-able gash in her soul.
I cannot even fathom the depth of her grief. This is the sickening kind of horror that plays into the worst of fears: to have someone who is a piece of your heart, snatched away from you. Suddenly. No warning. No chance to say goodbye. No chance to say "I love you" or "Thank you" or "save a seat for me, wherever you go."
I am so sorry, my Facebook friend. Godspeed to your fine friend. My heart is with you.
EDITED 5/29/2018 TO ADD:
They have found his body. Rest in peace, gallant friend of my Facebook lady. We will do what we can to bring her consolation.
A friend who is far away is sometimes much nearer than one who is at hand. Is not the mountain far more awe-inspiring and more clearly visible to one passing through the valley than to those who inhabit the mountain? - Kahlil Gibran Herself speaks.
Cherished Friend stopped by, momentarily, and it was lovely to see him.
He was traveling for a week, and chose to leave and return to this desert land through my local airport. He was here for an evening, and then off to the airport in the wee hours of the next morning; and then a week later, back for a night, and then off to his corner of this desert land in the wee hours of the next morning. I had the pleasure of of providing a couple of meals and houseroom. While he may have had certain misgivings about being an imposition, nothing could be further from the truth. He is always welcome here, however briefly.
It is easy for me, particularly as a woman, to get lost in the appellations I have gathered: relational titles, explaining who I am in relation to other people. Wife, mother, daughter, employee. The joys and honors of these roles -- and there are many, especially for wife-hood and motherhood -- come alongside duties and obligations which form part and parcel of the relationships. And that is well and good, and I consider myself fortunate to bear these roles.
There is something different in friendship -- an entirely alternate dimension.
In friendship, I have the opportunity to be just myself: not someone's mother, nor someone's spouse. nor someone's child, nor someone's teacher or lawyer or underwater basket-weaver. Just a person, who willingly spends time with another person, because we are Friends. How did this come to pass? I do not know. Yet I am grateful that it has. For it is delightfully simple. And miraculous, every time. And let there be no purpose in friendship save the deepening of the spirit.- Kahlil Gibran
Today is the fourth anniversary of the Unmooring. This anniversary crept up unexpectedly because of all the many things going on at the moment (including preparation for The Task). It is good that the day is already upon us and will leave shortly, because there was no time for anticipatory sadness.
There is less grief now; the loss has attenuated over time. (For which I am grateful.) In fact, I do not want any longer to linger over the anniversary, as nothing is to be gained except for remembrance of what has been lost. Right now, I must look ahead. Perhaps that is the best way to move onward.
I am on the cusp of full-time, hard-core preparation for The Task. I have finished the pre-pre preparation packet, and commenced the pre-preparation packet. Regular full-on preparation (more a Project than a packet) begins Monday, and continues for two months.
I am currently in a state of horror at all I do not know, and am thoroughly dismayed by the Task before me. Those who know me in person, have told me, "you are so smart, you can do this, no problem." I am grateful for their assurance, but in truth, no amount of being 'smart' is going to compensate for the highly specific knowledge I need to cram into my head and regurgitate in the proper way at the right time.
I am terrified of disappointing not only myself, but all the people who have every confidence that I can surmount this challenge. I want to cry. But I do not have time for that.
I do have some hope that work of preparation will relieve some of my concern. Time will tell.
“I love you" sounds best spoken in quiet acts of kindness.
― Richelle E. Goodrich, Slaying Dragons Herself speaks.
My recent short trip was to points northeastern-ly, to collect Offspring the Third upon the end of his first year of college. Huzzah! Congratulations, Offspring the Third, on your successful navigation of this first and ever-so-important step in life.
Though I do not mention it often, a decade ago Offspring the Third was diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum. He has made tremendous strides -- he has learned to understand people and how they work, and in fact has a significantly better grasp on the motivations of others than I tend to do. He has actively stepped out of his comfort zone on many occasions, managed to pick himself up when things don't go according to plan, and befriended others. He has kept his kind and tender heart, despite the harshness of the world. Bravo, Offspring the Third.
It was clear when I arrived at his dorm room -- based on the level of disarray of his possessions and amount of detritus accumulated -- that he was close to the end of his patience and tolerance for the new, difficult and strange environment that is college. He went off to take his last exam, and I set to packing up. After initially feeling somewhat overwhelmed by the task, I formulated a plan, carved out some space, and managed to get things mostly in order by the time he was done with his test. We finalized, crammed everything into our respective vehicles, and after a short but peaceful night in a nearby hotel, drove the six hours home the next day.
When we arrived home, he looked more exhausted than ever. I took care of moving his bins of belongings into the corner where they will live until they can be sorted, made sure he had food, responded to his need for inclusion in mundane conversation. Eventually, he settled in, though I can see that it will still take him several days to unwind. Welcome home, my Man-Child.
It has been said to me by more than one adult man (and it is always men, never women), that life is hard and he needs to do things for himself. He needs to figure things out alone. Needs to handle things for himself. "Suck it up."
Well: yes, and no.
Yes, I know that life is hard. He managed, and quite marvelously given his unique view of the world, to navigate all kinds of complex, anxiety-inducing situations over the course of his life and especially this past freshman year, with no more than an occasional supportive conversation by phone or by text. He has figured out all kinds of things alone. Handled matters. Sucked it up when necessary. This I know, from the talks he and I have had. I am immeasurably proud.
That being said, it is not my job to remind him that life is hard and that we all must go it alone. He's aware of that -- how many times has he said to me, "Well, I knew no one else would take care of it for me, so I figured it out for myself"? More times than I can count. It makes me a little sad, even though I know that it is a bitter truth he has learned.
What is my job, is to be Haven.
Yes, he *could* pack and move all his bins of possessions alone; he could fend for himself in all matters large and small. Yet while I am here, he does not *have* to do so. As long as I am able, I will lend a hand. I will get him a beverage. I will help with the laundry. I will provide supportive words. And I will reassure him of his value and his worth as a human being on this planet. Life is hard, and if I can shine a light or ease a burden for him, I will do so, always.
I will do so, too, for his siblings as well. Children of my body, central in my heart -- this is the best I can do for you. It is my great hope that the warmth of these moments of care will carry you onward in the cold world, when you must go forth alone.
Offspring the Second is off on an exciting adventure -- two months in a different country, with a different currency and a different language. I put aside my worries about his health and safety and well-being, and hope that he has a magnificent time.
I have finished one Giant Task. It is a task I do enjoy, despite it requiring a fairly large time commitment with carefully-planned increments, and it is a bittersweet ending. Nevertheless, I am relieved. And so very tired.
I spent the day organizing my desk at Work, to try to lay out my next projects. And on the horizon, is a bigger Task yet. A daunting Challenge. I will begin that in earnest within the next two weeks.
I went to the local outlet mall in search of proper supportive undergarments. I was expecting the excursion to be horrid; there are fewer things more agonizing than shopping for underthings when one is An Ample Person.
I eventually landed in the Lane Bryant store. (I try hard not to think of it as a "fat girls' store", even though it carries larger sizes. I clearly have self-body-image issues; I'd never fault anyone else for shopping there, so why is it somehow shameful for me to do so? I need to do better inside my head.)
I found surprisingly helpful advice and assistance from "Jennie", who measured me for proper size and provided recommendations. The selection in the store was remarkable: a lovely collection of cute and patterned underthings. It has been SO LONG since I've seen anything pretty in larger sizes. It was quite astonishing.
There was one moment when Jennie said politely, oh dear, you are probably bigger than a DDD You're quite full. Oh, dear. Yes, Jennie, I am. We settled on a G cup, or an H cup if it was a lower-cut style. I will admit to being a tad horrified at G/H. Yet, what can I do? Such it is. Alas.
When all was said and done, I went home with a variety of properly-sized new underthings, and now the mammaries are properly wrangled. Even better, I know what size to choose, so I can shop online for all the pretty dainties. And bonus -- no tears were shed. It's a near miracle, I tell you.
Since I must live in this body, I should, at least, give it something pretty to wear.
Although I had been quite annoyed by the name of P!nk's new album, Beautiful Trauma, I have had a change of heart after watching the video for the title song. It's whimsical, colorful, and beautifully addresses a serious subject matter in a lighthearted manner. Excellent.
Dermatologist today. After the second MOHS surgery for basal cell carcinoma, I was advised to have a skin review every six months instead of once a year. Alas. And this was, in fact, slightly earlier than originally scheduled, because there was A Spot Of Concern.
As I filled out the standard check-in information, the following question popped up:
"I would like to discuss Botox or fillers with my provider today."
And I thought: SWEET FANCIFUL MOSES NO, I DO NOT WISH TO DISCUSS BOTOX. I DO NOT WANT ANYTHING APPLIED TO OR POKED INTO MY FACE THAT IS NOT MEDICALLY NECESSARY BECAUSE I HAVE ALREADY HAD FAR TOO MANY UNPLEASANT EXPERIENCES.
Perhaps the check-in program heard my thoughts, because I was then asked:
"I am NOT interested in discussing cosmetic services."
Truth is: I am in the demographic that might want Botox or fillers. Alas. I feel... so middle-aged.
The good news is, the dermatologist felt that the Spot Of Concern was merely "pre-cancerous". (How strange, that "pre-cancerous" is a Good Thing.) Actinic keratosis; easily treatable. A little liquid nitrogen, and I was on my way. With a little luck, that will be the end of that particular spot -- for if it returns, I will go down the biopsy-possible-MOHS road again.
I won't think about that now, though. For now, I am grateful that the skin in which I live has passed muster for another six months (as long as nothing untoward pops up). Here's hoping.
I am very close to finishing one of my many Tasks of this year. This particular Task is one that I enjoy, and so it is a bittersweet ending -- for I know it will be quite a while (perhaps up to two years) before this Task rolls around again. Alas.
At the same time, though, I will be relieved to have one fewer thing to do. I have a much larger Task on the horizon: one that will require quite a bit of time and effort and brainpower, and that I am not sure will be successful. We shall see.
The hardest part of this Time of Tasks is that I feel as though I have given up so much of what I do for enjoyment: trying new recipes; playing the piano; reading for pleasure; voyaging northward to visit Cherished Friend in his corner of the desert; planning camping trips; taking a stroll around the neighborhood at night. All these joys are on hiatus. On hold. And if I pause to think, I am sad.
I try not to be frustrated or bitter; I cannot help but feel a sense of loss. I have a distinct feeling that I am missing out on opportunities -- chances to laugh and to enjoy the outdoors and to relish the little things; chances to just be, in the moment, without worry.
It is difficult.
I shall get through. And hopefully, when all is done, there will still be plenty of time to do all the lovely things I have missed.
There was a bat flitting through the air at twilight. No way to take a good picture, unfortunately; however: HOORAY FOR BATS. Because bats.
Apparently there are several species of bats here in this desert area (for more information, you may read here: https://www.desertusa.com/animals/bats.html). I am not sure what type of bat it was -- other than small. Or perhaps very young.
Whenever I mention bats, I think of an old Sesame Street clip in which the Count sings about a bat-related dance. Batty batty bat. Those old childhood memories -- revisited and reinforced when my Offspring were small and consumers of Sesame Street -- are strong ones.
NinjaHead resides with a muffin-baking woman known herein as Herself. Herself has a Beloved Husband, with whom she shares three nearly-grown Offspring. When she is not writing Things, Herself nurtures a visceral fondness for small furry creatures. The household menagerie, which has varied in size and composition over the years, presently contains solely a minuscule middle aged chihuahua and a lovely red fish named Ruth Betta Finsburg. Someday, there will be more critters, for she loves them tremendously.